Book Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Emily Conway, Staff Writer

These Violent Delights is a Young Adult Historical Fantasy novel by Chloe Gong set in Shanghai in the 1920’s, right after The Great War. Juliette Cai, the heir to the formidable Scarlet Gang, returns from America eager to prove her worth and ruthlessness as the first female heir to the Scarlet Gang. Due to Juliette’s catastrophic romance that caused her to be sent away to America, her loyalty and devotion are always questioned by her family. In order to keep the Scarlet Gang in control of Shanghai, Juliette has to show that she is a strong and cunning leader who will do whatever it takes to keep the Scarlet Gang, and herself, in power. 

However, when a mysterious sickness causes her people to tear out their own throats, Juliette has no choice but to team up with Roma Montagov, the heir to the Scarlet Gang’s sworn enemies: the White Flowers. While the Russian White Flowers are newcomers to the city, they hold a great amount of power and respect that rivals the Scarlet Gang. 

Working with the White Flowers won’t be easy, because falling in love with Roma Montagov is what got Juliette banished to America, and the reason why her loyalty will always be in doubt. Although, Roma never got over Juliette either, and working together again is complicated as they try to unravel the mystery.

I first got my copy of These Violent Delights from Owlcrate, a book subscription box, back in December of 2020. I absolutely loved this book, from the Romeo and Juliette references to the amazing side characters. The characters are with a lot of moral and ethical complexity that’s typically hard to pull off. 

These Violent Delights offer the consequences of Western imperialism, queer representation and plenty of morally grey characters. It was interesting to read a book that shines a light on a seldom-depicted setting in history. It represents how much influence Western imperialism had on Asian cities and civilizations. 

Shanghai was often called the “Paris of the East”, and for good reason. Shanghai was pulled in many different directions as a result of different historical events happening all around the city such as the Opium wars, rise of communism, rivalries between the English and the French, which is  excellently represented in this book. 

The sequel to These Violent Delights, Our Violent Ends, is also an extremely good book that might just be better than the first one. As one of my favorite series, I can confidently say that this series is definitely worth reading.